Friday, April 25, 2014

Brady's Biscuits on a Roll

Brady's Boys have taken the Southern League by storm in the first three weeks of 2014. For many in Montgomery, first place Biscuits mean just one thing....

The Skitz took four out of five from the MsBraves, treating the fans to a nice mix of power and speed as well as defense. If you have been waiting for the team to win some games before coming out to the park, its time to buy some tickets!

Montgomery seems to score often and is no stranger to coming back from a deficit to win games. Off to the best start in franchise history, the team finds ways to win and has come to expect a victory even when they trail early. While it may be true that it will take a losing streak to find out the character of the team, a prolonged string of defeats appears unlikely.

Casali #13
The parent club has given the impression that it expects wins from the Biscuits as well, quickly sending replacements for injured pitchers. In past seasons it would be the norm to see the bullpen long man take a spot in the rotation and cutting the legs out from under the pitching rotation. If this year were last, we would likely be seeing Jake Thompson taking a start for the inured Grayson Garvin.

While that could still happen, and it may yet be seen that P's Matt Neil and Bryce Stowell might not be ready for the Southern League, its a darn sight better than the nothing we have gotten in past years.

RHP Matt Lollis
Pitcher Matt Runion is the man jam with, I'm told. Runion is the only guitar-playing Biscuit and I hope to get a chance to sit down and see what tunes I can pick up from him!

Matt Lollis feels the schedule makers missed a chance to prove their intelligence by scheduling the 10:35am game on getaway day. Instead the schoolkids day game was on tuesday, with the last game of the series vs the Braves on Wednesday at 7:05pm.

Manager Brady Williams gives signs at first base that are tough to pick up. Running thru his motions in the third base coaches box he is slick and subtle, much different than his predecessor Billy Gardner Jr.

A clean shaven Luke Bailey was added to the roster following LHP Garvins injury. How he will get into games around Luke Maile and Curt Casali isn't known, both are hitting too well to sit for long.


April 25, 1966
Mike Kilkenny's Bad Day

Lefty Mike Kilkenny
In a Southern League matchup, Michael D. Kilkenny of the Montgomery Rebels uncorks a record tying 5 wild pitches vs the Macon Peaches.

Mike Kilkenny would be a major leaguer with the Tigers, later with Oakland, the Padres and and Cleveland. As a reliever and spot starter the Canadian lefthander appeared in over 130 games and striking out over 300 hitters. His rookie season Kilkenny tossed four shutouts on his way to an 8w-6L record.

Rookie Stars w/Kilkenny
Never again would he be so wild, cutting down on the wild pitches - four is the most in a season after 1966. In fact Kilkenny figured out alot while on the hill at Paterson Field, mostly in relief. His ERA dropped from over 4.00 in '66 to 2.88 in '67 and down to a meager 1.20 in 1968. Obviously a pitcher with an ERA of a buck-twenty earns a promotion, going to Toledo before making his MLB debut in 1969.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Saturday HotSkitz, Iron Man Pitches, Mgm scores 28 runs

Its fun to watch good baseball, the Montgomery team seems to have a nice punch at the plate and a consistent bullpen. If the starting pitching holds up and we avoid the injury bug it looks like a fun summer at the ballpark.

Victor Mateo turned in another fine outing on Saturday, helped to the win by one big inning before handing over the lead to the bullpen.

New closer Garrido looks to be gaining confidence with each appearance.

The big inning was set up by the speed threat... of Cameron Seitzer?

With Cameron Seitzer on third and Willie Argo on first, manager Brady Williams gave the steal sign to Argo at first, who took off with the pitch. The catcher didn't throw to second, denying us a possible Cameron Seitzer steal of home!

Argo took the bag, his ninth, he leads the league in thefts. After a walk loaded the bases, a pair of doubles helped plate five runs in the inning.

APRIL 20 1893

Joe McGinnity
On this date, a rookie pitcher named Joe McGinnity, signed to play for the Montgomery Colts by Colts skipper John McCloskey, arrives and is put right to work. Joe makes his first start for Montgomery by beating Nashville 10-4 while holding the opposition to just five hits on the same day he stepped off the train for his professional debut.

Two days later he would beat the Nashville team again as the Colts got off to a fast start, winning 13 of their first 16 games.

Future Hall of Famer Joe McGinnity got his nickname from working in iron mines in the offseason, playing baseball with the miners teams before being signed by Montgomery. Joe would pitch professionally through age 54, often tossing both ends of a doubleheader and defining the term "iron man".

Joe McGinnity 1894
With Montgomery in his first season, Joe walked more than he struck out and allowed more than a hit an inning. Montgomery's Colts folded with the rest of the league in August - there was a massive financial recession known as the Panic of 1893 and with it ended Joe McGinnity's time with Montgomery.

For the Colts Joe posted 15 wins, losing twenty. He tossed 28 complete games and one shutout.

McGinnity would go on to win 246 major league games, winning 20 games eight times, leading the league in wins five times, and twice winning over 30 games. Pitching mostly for the New York Giants, he completed 314 of 381 major league starts.

After the age of 38, no longer a major league pitcher, Joe went to work in the minor leagues, winning ANOTHER 239 times for teams like Newark, Tacoma, Vancouver and Dubuque. He finally hung up his spikes after 1925, a full 33 seasons after he stepped off the train at Union Station to pitch for Montgomery.

APRIL 20 1896
I have this odd box score from a game on this date....

Montgomery defeats Birmingham 28-4. 

The game features a whopper of a score, centered around the sixth inning rally. Already leading 12-1 the Montgomery Senators score eleven more times. No punches pulled as the home team plates another five in the seventh inning.

The lucky recipient of the massive run support is Montgomery's pitcher Vianello Drinkwater. Birmingham's starting pitcher Hon Fricken goes the distance on what is probably his worst career day.

Darkness and a sense of humanity ended the afternoon affair and allowed scorekeepers to refill their inkpots.

Mike Kahoe
Among the damage - 33 hits for Montgomery, a home run, five doubles, three triples and three base on balls.

Catcher Mike Kahoe hit for the cycle in this game, including the homer for Montgomery. He would spend 11 years in the majors and win a world championship with the Chicago Cubs in 1907 as their backup catcher.

APRIL 20 1908
Nashville and Montgomery battle for 15 innings without a run before darkness ends the contest.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Alternate becomes Norm, Elite Giants vs Black Yankees in MGM


The Biscuits players must like the new uniform tops, the gray road shirts usually deemed the "alternate" road jersey has been getting regular use on the current road trip.
Infield wearing the grays on 4-16

The dark blue has been the team daily wear for away games in seasons past, but this group has preferred the grays, wearing them for three straight days on the current trip.
Victor pitched in road grays on 4-14

We didn't get video from the road games in Mobile - but we do know that the Pensacola fans have gotten an eyeful of the new gray shirts, as the Biscuits wear them nearly every day when away from home.

April 15, Road Grays again

APRIL 16 1944 
Its not just World Series champs and big league allstars like Ted Williams coming to play in Montgomery. The NY Black Yankees face the Baltimore Elite Giants in Montgomery in an exhibition game between Negro league greats.

Announcement of the big series!
George Scales with Baltimore
The game will be held at Cramton Bowl, seating might be separate but excitement is equal as fans white and black turn out in large numbers to see the Negro Leagues top stars.

Among those stars is Baltimore's George Scales, a Talledega native who began his career with Montgomery's GreySox in the Negro Southern league in the 1920s.

APRIL17 1906 
Rube Geyer

Pitcher Rube Geyer of Nashville three hits the Montgomery Senators.

Among the Senators is Sam Apperious - he will be the subject of a later blog post for his role in a collegiate series involving a team fielding a black player. But for now, he's just one of a team of Montgomery players who had a tough time hitting Nashville's Geyer on an April afternoon.

APRIL 18 1955 
Rebels pitcher Troy Herriage
Troy Herriage sparks Montgomery to first place, picking up the win in a six hit complete game victory vs macon.

He also picked up the win in the opening game of the season. Herriage pitched well around four Mgm errors, stranding 11 macon runners as the Rebels get 15 hits to win, led by George Toepfer four-for-five

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stormy Monday...

Win some, lose some, some get rained out.
Cameron Seitzer in new alternate road jersey
Fortune shined when the sun didn't and the B-Skitz got the win in a six inning rain shortened game Monday.

Which is good since we dropped the series at Mobile, losing both of the last two games and we may face Mother Nature again on Tuesday.

We got our first look at the new road alternate uniform tops - essentially the Silver Surfer replacements.

They are basically the same, a mesh gray top with Biscuits in script across the front. They are a more basic gray than the previous Silver Surfer tops which seemed to have a pink-blue hue to them.
Casali in the alternate top

Its a good look, the main change being the addition of a dark blue piping down the front. In the past it was an orange and yellow trim. No name on back is in the usual style of Skitz uniforms and probably helps cut down on hecklers while visiting other cities.


There would seem to be a backlog of statements coming from the Biscuits front office, one would think we would soon start hearing things being made official.

The bobblehead that isnt Mateo but is a Memorial Day themed giveaway, the AllStar Game in 2015 coming here instead of Huntsville, that the Jersey Auction will be the old alternate road tops have all yet to be confirmed.

We haven't even heard any promotion for the visit by The Mountain Man!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

GoGoSkitz, Mgm hosts Phils-Sens, Rebels play Reds, NSL Forms

Bear has bat, no camera
Your Biscuits are on the road to Mobile - how come the Hank doesn't have cameras for MiLBtv?
If I were a BayBears fan I would be worried, the only other team in the league that doesn't have cameras for online broadcast is Huntsville!

The B-Skitz lost game one, getting shut out by the BayBears. Mobile starter Chase Anderson struck out six in a quality start and Biscuit hitters managed to strand six runners in scoring position on the night.

For the GoGoSkitz, Argo, Rickert and Brett stole bases. Brady Williams promised aggressiveness on the basepaths and so far has been true to that, giving the green light early and often and to any runner.

Game two was a different story, Montgomery scoring seven runs in the seventh inning to down Mobile. Argo had a stolen base and Segovia two RBI. Starter Floro had been hammered for nine hits and gave up four runs, but Jake Thompson was the recipient of the timely hitting and earned the victory. Closer Garrido picked up his third save of the young season.

Cameron Seitzer
Game Three on Friday was another Skitz victory. Cameron Seitzer blasting his first homer and the GoGoSkitz on the run with two steals of second base for Argo and a steal of third for Motter.

SP Clayton Mortensen got the win, his first.
 From the bullpen, RP Braulio Lara pitched and gave up a run. Again. His season ERA now 10.80.
RP Matt "Lawless"
Lollis pitched a clean ninth, though it wasn't a save situation. 

The Biscuits have two games left in Mobile and need just one victory to claim a series win before moving on to Pensacola.

April 11th 1948

Montgomery plays host to the Washington Senators and Philadelphia Phillies in a spring contest. The mound matchup of Dutch Leonard vs Early Wynn is the expected pitchers duel early, with the Phils breaking out in the late innings to down the Sens.

Dutch pitched well into his 40s
A five time AllStar, Leonard is a knuckleball pitcher with a long twenty year career for Brooklyn, Washington, Philadelphia and the Cubs. In an odd stat for a knuckleballer, Dutch is stingy with the walks, twelve times in his career he was in the top five in fewest walks per nine innings. And he knew about nine innings, credited with 192 complete games!
Early Wynn

For the other side, Early Wynn is the local boy. From Hartford Alabama, Early left high school at the age of 17 to sign with the Senators. Although at this point in his young career Wynn is a hard throwing hurler, he would later add the knuckleball to his pitch repertoire and extend his career and notch exactly three hundred wins. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972.

April 11 1949

One year later Montgomery is facing off against the Cincinnati Reds in an exhibition game at Cramton Bowl.

Bud Lively, also known as Red, is a Birmingham native in the Big Leagues. He gets the nod to start for Cincinnatti in this exhibition.

Bud "Red" Lively
Lively pitched for Montgomery in 1942, winning one game and losing one game. His father Jack Lively was also a pitcher for Montgomery way back in 1908-14.

Bud Lively was one of the former Montgomery Rebels honored by the City of Montgomery and the Biscuits in 2012. Bud is also listed among the oldest living Major Leaguers, and I believe him to be the oldest living Montgomery Rebel, though he actually played more games against us than for us! He's a fun guy to talk to and carries himself like a veteran pitcher even as an octogenarian.

Homer Howell, listed as the catcher, is Dixie Howell who later won a world series with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955. One of many players named Howell who earned the nickname "Dixie", Homer is the only catcher among them!
Catcher Homer Howell with Reds pitcher Millard Howell in 1949

Also this weekend I have the following note on Montgomery's entry into the Negro Southern League dated April 12 1920.

"Southern League Formed - Montgomery, Alabama, April 12. - Final plans for the completion of the proposed Negro Southern Baseball League resulted in the formation of an eight club circuit, with a bright prospect of 10 cities composing the final arrangement of the organization. 

A bird's eye view of the league reveals excellent grounds for the success of the venture; the cities selected appeal to be about evenly balanced in population, have good transportation facilities and are not too long a distance removed from each other for a heavy mileage to cut serious inroads and thus weigh heavily against the proper financial progress of the promoters. 
C.I. Taylor who was cited for Conspicuous service through putting into being a like organization in the northwest, was a deeply interested participant in the final arrangements, and his words of wisdom went a long ways towards encouraging options on franchises. 

The following cities qualified for franchises in the new league: Birmingham, Nashville, Knoxville, Atlanta, Pensacola, Montgomery, New Orleans, Jacksonville. A committee on the arrangement of a schedule hopes by the end of the week to have their dates alloted, as the opening day is set for April 29."

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Skitz To Get 2015 AllStar Game, Take Series from Barons, Integrate Team - not in that order

The Biscuits waited out Mother Nature through sunday and monday morning - sending the kids back to school before holding the doubleheader at three pm.

The home-skitz took game one with one big inning, big Matt Lollis vultured his second win of the young season. Starter Mike Colla went four innings, striking out four and simply running out of pitches to count due to surrendering seven hits.

The Biscuits scored all their runs in a fourth inning rally that included a towering Richie Shaffer homerun to centerfield. It was a lead that the bullpen would make stand up when Santiago Garrido struck out a pair to nail down the save and the series victory.

The play of the game, perhaps of the homestand, was a Cameron Seitzer stolen base. With runners on first and third manager Brady Williams put Seitzer on the move from first base. Barreling down to second drew the throw from the Barons catcher, which sent Taylor Motter scampering home as the second baseman threw to the plate without attempting to tag Seitzer. Motter was safe in a successful steal of home and Seitzer credited with the theft of second!

For Cameron the theft is equal to his stolen base totals in the past two years - he had one each in 2012 & 2013. He may be a big first baseman but he can run, Cameron pilfered six bases in his first pro season with Princeton in the Appy League.

Game two went the other direction, the Barons closed out the victory by the skin of their teeth.
An early eight run lead evaporated in the last inning when Bham closer Cody Winiarski fell apart, allowing five runs on five hits and a walk while getting only one hitter out on a run scoring fly out to the warning track.

The Barons summoned Kevin Vance to bail out the closer and Vance was up to the task, getting the last two outs and his first save of the year leaving the Biscuits tying run at the plate.

Manager Brady Williams likes to run, anyone in the park might be a candidate to get the "Go" sign!

Four stolen bases by Biscuits in the first five games were often key moments - a steal of third base sparked a victory in one game of this series, a double steal propelled the Skitz into a win in another. This may be the year of the "GoGo Biscuits"!


Rumors flying around the ballpark this weekend say that its all but a done deal that Montgomery will get the 2015 AllStar Game.

We were on track to host the midseason event in 2016, but appear to be poised to move up with the departure of Huntsville to Biloxi next spring. Huntsville would have been in line to host the double-A midsummer classic in 2015 but may have forfeited the opportunity.

The only All Star baseball game in Mgm since 2006 could change soon
Originally I expected to hear that it would be Pensacola hosting in 2015, which would be in line with how long it took Montgomery to bring the AllStar Game to Riverwalk. Its still possible this could happen, or even that Montgomery would be moved back from our expected 2016 season in order to showcase the new ballpark in Biloxi as well as get P-cola in as well.

The All-Star announcement could happen soon, though the press release for the 2014 game in Chattanooga just went out in January. This impending announcement helps explain why Asst.GM Scott Tribble was coy about answering my questions concerning our city hosting an upcoming AllStar game.

Mo pulls a little rank
The Biscuits bobblyhead giveaway thing this year will not be Victor Mateo, who continues to be snubbed despite his historic No-Hitter at home last August.
The Skitz won't say for sure, but the Alfa giveaway is scheduled for Memorial Day and carries a patriotic theme. Expect Big Mo in Uncle Sams clothes or perhaps the USAF uni hes pictured in on Military Wednesdays.

Skitz mob Mateo Aug 24th 2014
Mateo was also not on the cover of the home program, Joe Maddon was pictured instead. Former Biscuit Matt Moore got a bobblehead AND on the program cover for his no hitter.

On a recent article at MiLB.Com covering the Southern league, the Biscuits were not even mentioned and in a list of recent events the Last No Hitter was noted as Eric Jokish of the Smokies.

Jock-itch did throw a seven inning no-no a couple weeks before Victor faced the minimum at Riverwalk on August 24. I tweeted them and it was corrected.

Even the Mgm Advertiser game report the following day got the date wrong, saying his no hitter happened on the 25th, the day of the publication!

Come on, whats a guy got to do to get some recognition for his no-hitter? Throw 106mph?


Saturday I am getting ready to head to the park to see the Barons face the Biscuits and notice a tweet from the local news station, WSFA. They say "Be sure to watch todays Batter Up Biscuits special at six thirty, then we will broadcast the game from 7-10pm".

So I check my Biscuits team magnet schedule, handed out just the previous evening. It says "Be sure to watch WSFA on April 19th for the Batter Up Special".

At that point, I wondered if the Biscuits knew that WSFA was showing up!

When I get to the game and see the news camera in the camera well next to where I sit I know for sure that WSFA is there.

At that point I wondered if WSFA knew the Biscuits game starts at 6:35 and not 7pm!

Pretty soon someone comes to run the camera and I mention that the game was scheduled to start at six thirty five. The camera operator was surprised by this, and quickly started informing whoever is on the other end of those headphones camera operators wear.

A few minutes later, the video score board goes out and we hear the announcement "Ladies and gentlemen, we are having technical difficulties, there will be a delay". The game was then delayed 30 minutes.

One of the most important baseball dates in Montgomery history!

APRIL 7 1954 

On this date the Philadelphia A's beat Pittsburgh Pirates 17-10 in exhibition game at Montgomery that featured nine home runs.

It was a high scoring game with plenty of action. The A's slugging Z's Gus Zernial and Bill Zenna and the original Frank Thomas of the Pirates all hit two homers each at Paterson Field on this day.

It was a pitchers nightmare with that many homers, but even in the spring exhibition game Philadelphia starting pitcher Alex Kellner went all nine innings, allowing 16 hits and ten runs to earn the victory.

Also on this date, Charlie Metro is replaced as manager of the Rebels.
The popular manager was the longest tenured skipper in Montgomery history until Billy Gardner Jr managed the Biscuits from 2007-13.

Also on that day, and likely most important....

Johnny Davis
George Handy
April 7th 1954 

The Montgomery Rebels field their first black players, veteran outfielder John Davis and steady fielding George Handy at 3b. 

I detail this event in the post "the day Montgomery baseball changed forever"

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Biscuits crush Barons, Pig named Food

Mgm finally on happy side
An old fashioned barn-burner at the yard, by the time the Biscuits came to bat in the second inning we had seen every hitter in both lineups.

Just as the day before, the Barons took an early lead of the type that would have been a deathblow to Skitz teams past - but not this batch of buttery boys. They fight back and the fans in the stands love it.

The Biscuits came back after giving up four runs to take the lead in bottom of the first and never looked back. Even though Skitz starting pitcher Mortensen was chased after just one out in the second inning Montgomery kept putting runs on the board, eventually tallying 14 and moving to within a game of taking the series.

This team has got to get its starting pitching to go deeper into games, but its looking like a fun summer for Montgomery baseball fans!


Miss Gravy
The pig is named Miss Gravy and I think its awkward they named it after food. No chance that name got the most submissions, meaning even those who wanted to play along with the "name the pig" were left wondering.

Personally, I like the pig. The pig is the future, shes the face of the organization. I say we keep the pig and that gives us enough mascot depth to deal Big Mo. That would open up more playing time for Monty the Biscuit, who is sometimes disrespected by the team. 

Besides, if the pig brings a team like we saw this week we might want two pigs!


APRIL 6 1898 
Montgomery hosts Auburn (known as alabama polytech at the time) in an exhibition game.

This is one of the oldest game reports I have found on Montgomery baseball, I'm not even sure what park/where this game took place. I dont usually post news reports this long, but I know there is at least one Auburn fan out there so the rest of you will have to just scroll on down!

E.B.Joseph, Mgm manager

APRIL 6 1946 

The Cincinnati Reds face the Boston RedSox in exhibition DoubleHeader!

The RedSox win game one 10-0 on a two hitter by pitcher Tex Hughson.

The Reds win game two 7-5 at Cramton Bowl. The second game consisting of the reserves for both teams, the starting squads playing in game one.

The 1946 Red Sox are World Series bound, though of course they will be turned away by the Cardinals.

Pittsburgh Press gets the game one score wrong!

APRIL 6 1953 
Montgomery Rebels host the Philadelphia Athletics at Paterson Field

Bobby Shantz
The Rebels fall to the big leaguers 13-5, reigning American League MVP Bobby Shantz doing the pitching handles the Rebels fairly easily, as the home team scores only once until the 9th inning.

Philadelphia  AL   300-032-320 13-11-2
Montgomery SAL 000-010-004 5--7-2
» Shantz. Rozck (8 and Astroth: Host. Kleinsmith ( 6 ) . Letchworth (7) and McWhorter, Pinkham ( 6 ) .

Home runs-Zernial and Clark.
Winning pitcher-Shantz.
Losing pitcher- Host.